CarersBlog

carersblog.wordpress.com

Carers’ issues a hot topic in Scottish election

Note: This is a joint blog from Lynn Williams, Fiona Collie and Claire Cairns who have been leading the National Carer Organisation Election Campaign in Scotland

We are moving into the final days of the election campaign in Scotland and the issues affecting carers and young carers have become a hot topic. Over the last few weeks carers’ organisations have worked hard to ensure that carers and young carers alike have had a chance to question candidates and influence parties’ thinking. Through the press, through on line media and face to face with candidates, carers and young carers have been heard loud and clear on what matters most to them and to their families.

This election marks a turning point for carers; every party has in some form or another directly recognised their contribution with a string of manifesto pledges made which seek to improve carers’ and young carers lives.

Claire Cairns, Fiona Collie and Lynn Williams

Launching the Carers Manifesto at the Scottish Parliament

We very much welcome specific pledges which seek to involve carers and young carers at the very heart of Government in Scotland. These commitments include Scottish Labour’s pledge to install a Cabinet level Carers’ Champion who can lead and work across all policy areas in Government. The party is also pledging to set up a Carers’ Summit to enable a Scottish Labour Government (or coalition administration involving Labour) to shape policies and decisions affecting carers’ lives (link to Labour party pledges to follow).

The SNP have pledged to deliver an annual Carers’ Parliament to give carers and young carers a direct say in the work of the Government and the Scottish Parliament. http://manifesto.votesnp.com/carers.

If realised, any one of these commitments will give carers and young carers a voice in shaping decisions that affect their lives at the highest levels of Government.

Other parties such as the Scottish Lib Dems are looking to extend the rights that carers have and improve local service delivery. http://www.scotlibdems.org.uk/files/SLD2011manifesto.pdf.

Labour join the Lib Dems in pledging to investigate a right to respite for carers. http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/uploads/938e3455-1814-0b84-e115-8ddec3a327b5.pdf

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have costed a substantial investment in additional respite and many of the smaller parties have made a range of commitments to carers. http://www.scottishconservatives.com/downloads/scottish-conservative-manifesto-2011.pdf

Carers’ issues are indeed one of this election’s hot topics. But one commentator in the press recently said that manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on – and that might well be the case.

But as part of Scotland’s Carers Organisations we are making our own pledge to you – that we will work together tirelessly to bring parties to account whether in Government or opposition on the pledges they have made. We will continue to work directly with Ministers and MSPs in opposition to build on what has already been achieved for Scotland’s carers; we are also already planning for the Scottish Local Elections next year – service delivery locally is a key concern.

So there is much to look forward to and much still to do. Please continue to work with us to help make the lives of Scotland’s carers and young carers the best that they can be – to ensure that their contribution is truly recognised. Our Scottish Carers’ Manifesto – shaped by carers and young carers – will continue to be the basis for our campaigning work at national and local level. You can also continue to have your say on our ‘Carers Votes Count’ Facebook pages.

To the 5th May and beyond!!

Lynn, Claire and Fiona On behalf of Scotland’s National Carer Organisations

Advertisements

May 2, 2011 Posted by | General Election, Scotland | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carers policy in Scotland – a mixed picture

Lynn Williams, Policy Officer (Scotland) at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

Positive things are happening for carers in Scotland

Hi, my name is Lynn Williams. I took up the post of Policy Officer (Scotland) with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in August this year.

My work involves speaking to policy and decision makers in Scotland to ensure carers’ needs across Scotland are recognised and met and that they are able to lead fulfilling lives which take account of their caring role.

I can’t believe that I’m in the fourth month at The Trust already. There’s been so much to learn over the last few months and in the course of my visits I’ve met some truly amazing people – carers and colleagues from Carers’ Centre who are completely committed to ensuring carers get the support they need.

I’ve had to learn fast, but I have had the chance to get a view of the landscape for carers in Scotland. I want to share my thoughts about where we are in policy terms. I think that we could be standing on the cusp of something exciting.

Firstly, all political parties acknowledge the contribution carers make and the public money saved because of what they do every day.

Secondly, through current policy developments – and there are lots of these – the Scottish Government acknowledges the critical nature of the support provided by carers for wives, husbands, partners, children and other family members and friends.

And over this last year, there has been work to develop a new Carers’ Strategy for Scotland, which will include specific actions for young carers.

Positive things are happening…

The Cross Party Group on Carers met again on 5 November. At this meeting, parent carers from East Renfrewshire spoke openly about the pressure of caring on their lives and the lives of their families. They talked about the vital support provided by their local Carers’ Centre. The local authority’s lack of accountability was quite clear in the stories they told.

The Cross Party Group let carers’ voices be heard in the Parliament – MSPs attending included Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s new Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, and Cathy Peattie, a carer champion and Chair of the Cross Party Group.

We met with the Scottish Liberal Democrats in September. They were very interested in the local focus and approach of Carers’ Centres in Scotland – as well as the impact of the recession and the banking crisis on funding sources accessed by The Trust and the Network of Centres.

Polly Jones, Head of Strategy and Policy for the Lib Dems, has been incredibly supportive and working with her, we secured a direct mention of the Network of Carers’ Centres and funding issues by both Ross Finnie and Robert Brown in a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament.

In that same debate, Johann Lamont’s (Labour) support for the work of Centres was clear and Des McNulty (Labour) also mentioned the work of The Trust and Carers’ Centres in Scotland.

And we are meeting Michael McMahon in early December. Michael was recently appointed to Labour’s shadow cabinet with a responsibility for local government. We will seek to raise with him some of the challenges outlined below and raise the profile of the Network.

We want to secure the support of MSPs and The Trust will continue to be directly involved in key policy developments – the new Carers’ Strategy, the planned Dementia Strategy, Reshaping Care and so on – to ensure these policies mean real action for carers; that they increase the accountability of local authorities and not lead to an increased burden for unpaid carers.

We have the opportunity to begin looking at carer entitlements; there is a political will to look at how health and social care services – including carer support, training, information etc – are funded and there is clear cross-party recognition that without the work that carers do, health and care services would collapse.

But it’s not all good news…

As Gordon has said before on here, recognition is not enough – and that message has been loud and clear as I have visited and spoken to carers and Carers’ Centre colleagues across the country.

People have opened their hearts and told me their stories, highlighting the continuing difficulties that carers face across Scotland – services such as respite/short breaks have been stopped, support packages are pulled without consultation.

I’ve been told about parent carers being threatened by social workers (yes, I DID say threatened).

Carers have talked about having to move house to access the help they need, or to get support for the people they care for.

And across the country, I get a real sense from speaking to carers that the Concordat agreed by the Government and COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) two years ago has not always resulted in improved carer support or better carer outcomes.

Recognition has not led to better lives for Scotland’s carers and there is a real risk that gains achieved over the last few years could be lost.

I don’t always feel as positive as I would like – especially as the impact of the recession on public spending is only now becoming clear and local authorities publish spending plans which mention cuts and increased charges for services.

This is why I need your help…

Your views and input can help us make sure carers get the support they need and the recognition they deserve. I need YOUR help. If you let us know what you think, we can make sure we don’t lose this opportunity to shape a better future for all of Scotland’s carers and young carers. Please comment.

Take care,

Lynn

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Scotland | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments